Integrins regulate cell viability through their interaction with the extracellular matrix. Integrins can sense mechanical forces arising from the matrix and convert these stimuli to chemical signals capable of modulating intracellular signal transduction. The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway is a major regulator of cell survival. It is not known, however, whether integrins, acting as mechanoreceptors, regulate cell survival via the PI3K/Akt pathway. Here, we show that in response to a matrix-derived mechanical stimulus, β1 integrin regulated cell viability by regulating Akt activity in a PI3K-dependent fashion. To accomplish this, we employed fibroblasts cultured in collagen gels. During contraction of collagen matrices, fibroblasts underwent apoptosis. We demonstrate that ligation of β1 integrin with anti-β1 integrin antibodies protected fibroblasts from apoptosis. The nature of the survival signal activated by β1 integrin engagement with antibody was mediated by PI3K acting through Akt/protein kinase B. We show that Akt phosphorylation decreased during collagen contraction and that this decrease correlated precisely with the onset of fibroblast apoptosis. Fibroblasts transfected with constitutively active PI3K displayed increased Akt phosphorylation and were protected from anoikis and collagen gel contraction-induced apoptosis. Our data identify a novel role for β1 integrin in regulating fibroblast viability through a PI3K/Akt/protein kinase B signaling pathway in response to a matrix-derived mechanical stimulus.